Saturday, July 13, 2013

Happy Birthday, Bugs!!


Bugs the Doberman, a set on Flickr.

Miss Bugs is a year old today!
The past six months have been difficult and rewarding - when Bugs came to me, she was just entering into the "doberteens" and I swear to you, she seemed to actually try to be a pain in the butt! She'd look me in the eye and stick her head in the trash can. I'd ask for a sit and she'd gallop off into the wild blue yonder (aka the bedroom.) I would tell her to lay down next to me and she'd jump on my head.

But for all of that, she's also the most loving dog I've ever known. She'll break her neck to be near me all the time. She loves bear hugs and will stick her bonker (aka nose) through my arms to get one. She's is starting to show signs of the awesome dog that I know she can be, and she's calming down so much.

I can't even put into words how much I love this dog. She's the best thing that's ever happened to me.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Bugs loves toads.

Sometimes Bugs impresses with how gentle she can be.

The other day, Bugs was outside and as I walked by, I saw, through the door, a huge toad jumping from under the deck towards her. She was resting in her kiddie pool and didn't see the toad, so I grabbed my shoes and went out to save it.

In that short time, the toad had hidden himself somewhere and I couldn't find him. So I played with Bugs for a bit and we headed in. At just that moment, out jumped the toad and Bugs pounced. She grabbed him in her mouth as I'm yelling "Leave it! LEAVE IT!"

She didn't drop him so I got it out of her mouth. Lo and behold, that toad was absolutely unscathed!! He had puffed himself all up to make himself scary, but there wasn't a tooth mark on him. He was absolutely unharmed.

I put him in the long grass on the other side of the fence and Bugs and I went in to research if that toad was poisonous. (He wasn't.)

I couldn't believe how gentle she was with it. I think the toad was impressed too - how many other critters have found themselves in the jaws of a seventy pound doberman and lived to tell the tale??

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Restless + Recipe

Bugs has started sleeping in bed with me, now that she has (mostly) grown out of random chewing and other puppy behaviors.

Last night was a crazy night, though. She was restless all night and then I felt her get off the bed, so I got up to see what she was doing. She had one of the kids' stuffed animals and was trying to bring it in bed with us! I don't know if that's because she's becoming an adult and her "mothering" instincts are kicking it, or because she really loves to kill toys! Regardless, I took it away, because even if the kids didn't love it, I don't want her to chew things up; the danger of ingesting something is too great.

She woke up again and I felt her stand up on the bed but not get down. I had fallen asleep with the tv on and Bugs was standing there growling at a commercial for a cat toy! I changed the channel and she laid down but kept watching tv. She's never really paid attention to the television before - not sure why she chose last night to start watching it.

We did some fireworks before bed last night, and she was in the house but didn't seem to be bothered by the sounds. It must have worked her up more than I thought because she just couldn't settle down for bed. Thankfully we live so far out in the middle of nowhere that she won't have to deal with anymore of that from the neighbors or anything.

A member on Doberman Talk shared a recipe for a treat, and Bugs LOVES it, so I thought I would share my version: Dilute beef broth with water and put it in a margarine tub, about half full. Then add chopped cooked meat, veggies, etc and freeze it. It comes out like a hockey puck and takes Bugs quite a while to get through it. It's definitely an outside treat, but it's nice for these hot July days.

Bugs also loves strawberries so I plan on making her a dog food and strawberry birthday cake next weekend for her. Can't believe my big girl is turning a year old already! The last six months have flown by and she's turning into an awesome dog.

I decided her AKC name will be Geruch Mogen Jugendlich Geist, which means "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in German. She's out of Serbian lines, but the Serbian language uses a different alphabet than English so it doesn't translate well.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

IPO (schutzhund) and European working lines

Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk with Brian Harvey of Der Michigan Schutzhund Verein. He has been training police dogs for 34 years and doing competitive schutzhund for about the same length of time. His credentials are awesome - he trains, competes, and judges on a national level.

I described Bugs' temperament to him and he thinks she would be a good candidate, even for bitework! I like this guy because they do NOT start out with prong collars, e-collars, etc. They start out with flat collars and work up as needed, but since Bugs is very biddable and loves to take direction, he doesn't think she'll need any harsh treatment. (I just could not put her through that - it's too much for both of us!)

I was very up-front about Bugs' issues with other dogs. She does great sometimes, and other times she gets all wild and crazy and is difficult for me to control. He wasn't fazed - he said most of the dogs act like that at first. I also told him about the behaviorist who diagnosed it as frustration and he said that's fantastic because we don't want true aggression for a sport. Maybe if she was training for hard-core police work, we might want more aggression, but he said frustration is an indication of drive and that she needs to be taught, through training, what is expected of her.

Bugs doesn't go after people, but here is the way he described IPO to me:
Let's say your dog goes after the mail man, the meter reader, and other dogs. It's in this breed's genetics to be watchful and protective, but without training them what to do with that protective instinct, they can get out of control. So we teach them exactly who and what to bite (the sleeve), and a command to do so. Now they know what to do and that their handler (me) is in control of the situation and that they only need to go nuts when their handler instructs them to.

Bugs isn't well-bred; she originally came from a BYB (backyard breeder) but her first owners didn't realize the dangers of buying a dog from such a breeder, which is a very common mistake. They should not be faulted for this; when you know better, you do better and I'm 100% certain that their future dogs will come from better breeders.

Bugs' sire is Mamut del Nasi, a cast-off from del Nasi kennels in Serbia. Her grand-sire is CAC CACIB Prinz Paris von Jahrestal, and her great grand-sire is the famous IDC SIEGER Fedor Del Nasi.

I have no information about her dam's side of the pedigree, but with her European working blood, she may very well be a good candidate for IPO. I can tell that she needs a job and an outlet, but so far I haven't found the right thing for us. IPO may not be right for either of us, but you never know until you try, so this Sunday we're leaving bright and early for the drive to Hudson to meet with Brian at DMSV. He's going to evaluate her, and we're going to get a chance to see how the dogs at this club are trained. Club fees are reasonable - $150 a month, which includes 8 training sessions a month. That's about what you'd pay for obedience classes and is affordable. I like the fact that I work with her, under supervision of the trainer (some clubs I talked to wanted me to leave her there for a month and they do all the training - that's not going to happen!)

Meanwhile, I am also reading up on various AKC sanctioned sports, in case this isn't right for us. I will not force Bugs to do something that she isn't cut out to do, and if it isn't enjoyable and rewarding for us, then there's no point in doing it. We may very well end up doing something like canine freestyle, since we both really enjoy doing snazzy tricks, but only time will tell.

I am excited to have Bugs evaluated and to see how IPO works, in person. All the reading and youtube in the world still doesn't show me exactly what a training session looks like, and that's what matters most. I will not put my girl in a situation where she will be hurt, mentally or physically.

If Brian thinks Bugs is a good candidate, we're going to make a special vet appointment to make sure her joints and muscles can handle the physical exercise. Her growth plates won't close for another 6 months, so we won't force vigorous exercise, but I think, if this works out, that it will be an awesome opportunity for both of us.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Another long overdue update - and pics!!

Spring and summer are very busy around here, and updating the blog isn't a huge priority. Sorry everyone. *sheepish grin*

Bugs is now 11.5 months old and is turning into an absolutely wonderful dog! She is so bonded to me and is definitely a velcro dog.

Her manners have greatly improved because I've taught her some things to help with self-control. She now does an auto-sit for everything - be it water, petting, toys, etc. And she also knows the "wait" command. She isn't allowed to rush her food bowl or the door; that has the potential to be hazardous. I taught her "wait" with a hand signal and word, which is really nice because sometimes she acts like a butthead when I'm on the phone and I can't exactly holler "WAIT!!!" into someone's ear. :D She is so good at waiting that I can put a treat on the floor and walk away for up to four minutes. When I come back she's still sitting there looking at the spot where I last was, waiting for me to give the release word which is "OOOkay!" I say the release word really funny and high pitched. My thinking on that is: what if we are in a situation where she NEEDS to wait, such as if I am talking to someone. I don't want her to hear me say "okay" in conversation and think she can get up and run around.

Bugs has had some issues with being leash/dog reactive. We saw a veterinary behaviorist who diagnosed it as frustration - NOT aggression or fear. Frustration is awesome because we can train that! We are using a head collar and high value treats (Lickety Sticks) with FANTASTIC results!

Bugs went to the vet in May for her heartworm test - which was negative - and she weighs 70 pounds. We got a new prescription for fleas called Advantage Multi which is a monthly spot-on preventative that covers fleas, heartworm, and intestinal worms. It's only about $15 which is cheaper than doing separate flea and heartworm preventative.

Bugs went camping with me at the beginning of June and she had so much fun! She got to play on the beach and chew on sticks, and even got to sleep in the tent with Momma. She was impeccably behaved the entire time except for one small incident. She saw a man on the beach that she didn't like and was barking at him. She has never reacted to a person before. Two days later, I put her out to potty and went back in the tent at around 6:30am. Suddenly I heard her barking - not the "I'm done, let me back in" bark, but a big scary warning bark. I went out and there was that same man, sitting on a bench across the road.

I did not correct this behavior because she's a doberman and that's her job, to alert me when things aren't quite right. Something wasn't right with that man, even though he seemed completely fine to me. She is very discerning and that's how she's supposed to be.

Our new goal is to start doing some nosework for fun and maybe for competition, if we both like it. I love the IPO tracking (fka schutzhund) but Bugs is very soft and not cut out for bitework and I don't know that we would be able to compete in just one section of IPO. The AKC has a nosework competition but it's completely different than IPO, for instance, allows air sniffing rather than having the nose deep into the track.

And now what you've all been waiting for - PICS!

 Bugs cuddling with Momma

Bugs in the tent!

Bugs and my nephew, Jack. They're best friends!!

Bugs and her favorite toy - strips of fleece braided into a rope

Bugs and Bruno watching the door (Dad came in)